Tell Me a Story

Once upon a time, Carita and Bjorn were happily married. They were so happy that they never spoke a cruel word to each other. Carita thought whatever Bjorn did was just fine, and Bjorn thought Carita was loveliest woman he knew. They were poor, and they often did not even have enough to eat. But they were always happy.

The Devil was envious of their happiness. He was forever trying to stir up trouble in their tiny cottage. He lay outside and watched, waiting for his chance to make them miserable, angry or at least peeved with each other. But no matter how he tried, nothing worked.

The decades passed.

Down the road from Carita and Bjorn's cottage lived Katie Gray, a woman who loved to make trouble. Knowing this, the Devil asked for her help in setting Carita and Bjorn against each other.

"Of course, but there's a price," Katie Gray said. "I'd like a pretty new dress with a ruffled skirt."

The Devil agreed.

Early the next morning, as Bjorn set out to gather firewood, Katie Gray stopped by to visit with Carita. After exchanging pleasantries, Katie Gray said, "You have a very fine husband, don't you?"

"I certainly do," Carita agreed. "When the first snow comes this year, it will be 40 years since we were married. The man has never said an unkind word in all those years."

"Very good," Katie Gray said. "Sad to say, I've known many couples who got on for 40 years, when suddenly the troubles begin."

"That's too bad," Carita said. "You'll never hear that story about us."

"That may be," Katie Gray said, but she went on to caution Carita. "Best to be wise in advance and know the remedies that can kill ill feelings between spouses."

"What kind of remedies are those?" Carita asked.

"Ah, woman, I can teach you a remedy against just such a misfortune, since it would be a shame if you and Bjorn begin to bicker after 40 years."

Carita was quiet, and Katie Gray was sure she had her now. She moved in close and whispered: "Do this. Take a razor and draw it three times along a strop. Then cut six hairs from Bjorn's beard. Do this when he's sleeping. Then burn those six hairs. Rest assured, your happiness will continue."

"I don't think I'll need that cure," Carita said. "But thank you for your good advice."

With that, Katie Gray departed to search for Bjorn.

She found him deep in the forest, and after they exchanged their hellos, Katie Gray said, "You have a wonderful wife I've just been visiting."

"She is the best wife on earth," Bjorn agreed.

"Well, yes," Katie Gray said, "but then, so was Eve before the fall."

Bjorn laughed. "Carita never puts a foot where there is wickedness."

"Don't be too sure," Katie Gray shook her head. "After all, the Devil can creep in through the tiniest cracks. I mean you no mischief, but those who will run into danger should be cared for. When it's mild outside, sometimes that means it's wild inside."

"Trust me," Bjorn said, his temper rising, "my wife will never make me unhappy -- not even if the sun were to shine in the middle of the night."

"Believing does no harm," Katie Gray said, "but tonight you would be wise not to close your eyes."

"What on earth are you talking about?" Bjorn demanded.

"Forgive me, sir," Katie Gray said, "but I have special insight, and I believe your wife means to run a razor across your throat this very night."

"Ridiculous!" Bjorn said.

Katie Gray said goodbye and went on her way.

When she was gone, Bjorn stood thinking for a long time. What a strange premonition, he thought. Obviously, Katie Gray was wicked. He was sorry he had listened to her for one moment.

When Bjorn reached home that evening, he was silent and sad, for he wasn't able to shake Katie Gray's terrible warning from his mind.

Poor Carita could not imagine what had happened to her cheerful husband. He never was gloomy, and when she could not cheer him up, she remembered Katie Gray's warning.

"I had best try the remedy," she told herself. So, right after supper, she said, "Dear husband, may I borrow your razor?"

The hairs on the back of Bjorn's neck stood up, but this was his Carita. She wouldn't hurt him. He gave her the razor, but he also placed an ax next to the bed.

Some hours after they had gone to bed, Carita whispered, "Are you awake, husband?"

Bjorn said nothing, so Carita got out of bed and lit a candle. She took the razor and sharpened it along her husband's belt.

Bjorn was as still as a stone, though he moved his hand closer to the ax.

Carita stepped forward and cut three hairs from Bjorn's beard. As she leaned in for a fourth, he seized his ax, leaped up and struck her dead.

Bjorn was shaken, more upset than imaginable, so he took the razor from Carita and cut his own throat. As he was dying, he heard laughter. He looked up and saw Katie Gray and the Devil standing nearby. The Devil was holding the pretty dress with the ruffled skirt.

"A deal's a deal!" Katie Gray laughed, but the Devil could barely look at her.

"Keep away," he said. "You are the evil one -- more evil than I." He tossed her the dress and ran away.

Just then, two white pigeons appeared. They flew out of the cottage and into the clouds. It was Carita and Bjorn.

Katie Gray understood that from now on the Lord would look after them.

But what became of her? No one is sure.

"Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder," the third CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit www.mythsandtales.com.

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